The Grapes of Turkey
While the international favourites of Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc make for some interesting, and in many cases, delightful wines (Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc too) it is the local varieties that are most interesting. There are plenty of them too, those most commonly encountered include Narince (Nah-rin-jeh) and Emir (Eh-mere) for the whites and Boğaskere (Bow-aah-zker-reh), Kalecik Karasi (Kah-le-jic Car-ah-ser) and Öküzgözü (Oh-cooz-goe-zoo) for the red.
Narince generally offers a richness/fullness to the palate and a peachy, tropical fruit edge to the flavour. Both oaked and unoaked versions can be found, sometimes blended with various quantities of Chardonnay. All those that came my way were rather good, some commented of the over-use of oak, but these wines are tailored to more domestic tastes. A fortified version was also interesting as an after dinner sweet wine. Narince is Turkish for ‘delicately’.
The other white grape is the Emir; this apply and citrus flavoured wine I found just too tart and overly acidic as a still wine but, maybe, given a hot day and a plate of fresh fish or seafood I can see its place. Emir is native to Cappadocia. A couple of sparkling wines show some promise although weren’t terribly exciting.
For the three main red are – Boğaskere, Kalecik Karasi and Öküzgözü. The latter being my favourite with generally hefty tannins and a medium bodied palate, a great robust food wine. Boğaskere (throat-burner) makes denser wines with substantial tannins and a marked ability to age well, developing leather, clove and dark fruit flavours as it does so. Both Öküzgözü and Boğaskere can be melded together in various blends. The Kalecik Karasi on the other hand (Kalecik Karasi means ‘black from the small castle’, Kalecik being a small village north of Ankara known for its castle) is several degrees paler in colour than the other reds and equally lighter in weight and body.
Where to Buy
A fledgling industry is wine production in Turkey; of the producers I met and discovered only one or two of their wines are available in the UK. Marks and Spencers stocks the citrus, minerally wonder that is the Sevilen Sauvignon Blanc (adegga/snooth]. The Wine Society was also mentioned as stocking a couple (although I found no wines listed on line). And then I discovered Taste Turkey! Loads of wines listed here including those from Kavaklidere, Kayra, and Vinkara.